5 Healthier Ways to Snack During Football Season

Week in Review: September 6, 2019
September 6, 2019
Week in Review: September 13, 2019
September 13, 2019

With football season upon us, it’s highly likely that at least one of your weekend days – be it live or at home – will be partially devoted to watching the pigskin get tossed around. The true degenerates among us might find both Saturday and Sunday under siege. And if you play fantasy football, get ready to scream at the TV as a third string running back vultures a valuable touchdown from your starter (I have no experience with this!)

Regardless of your degree of football fandom, you’ll probably tempted to prepare some afternoon snacks to satisfy your hunger and calm your nerves. With that in mind, we’re going to review 5 common game-time snacks and compare them with a healthier alternative. As with anything, moderation is the key.

To wit, the point of this exercise is not to swap out typical game-time fare for spinach and boiled chicken. Instead, we’re looking for simple and tasty ways to save a few calories here and there.  To determine nutritional values, we’re using the very handy nutritional analysis tool from Nutritionix.com.

Alright, let’s go save some calories…

1. Beer

Let’s face it, beer is going to be consumed during football season. You know it, I know it and the American people know it. Clearly, the best way to control calories is to enjoy a beer or two in moderation. However, that doesn’t always happen, especially if your tailgate starts at 9:30 in the morning. With that in mind here’s a comparison between Bud Light, the best selling beer in the United States, and Beck’s Premier Light. Our comparison assumes the consumer will have 3 beers. You can extrapolate further from there…

Bud Light

Serving Size: 3 Cans (1137 grams)
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 0
Calories 330

Beck's Premier Light

Serving Size: 3 Cans (1137 grams)
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 0
Calories 192

A single Bud Light has 110 calories, while a Beck’s Premier light contains 64 calories. Since it’s easy to overconsume calories via beverages, taking the opportunity to limit caloric intake wherever possible is quite helpful for our waistline. Remember, moderation is key!

Total Caloric Savings: 138 Calories

2. Wings

I love wings.  It’s hard to find a tailgate that’s complete without them. However, even though they’re a protein packed snack, the calories can really add up when you account for how they’re prepared (fried vs baked) and any sauces or dressings that accompany them.  So let’s take a look at a traditional serving of a half-dozen buffalo wings, compared with the same serving size of baked wings with a garlic pepper rub.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Serving Size: 6
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 354
Calories 528
Total Fat 39 grams
Saturated Fat 13.8 grams
Cholesterol 132 milligrams
Sodium 630 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates 15.6 grams
Protein 27 grams

Baked Chicken Wings

Serving Size: 6
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 174
Calories 288
Total Fat 19.2 grams
Saturated Fat 5.7 grams
Cholesterol 162 milligrams
Sodium 114 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates 0 grams
Protein 27 grams

Wow! The traditional wings have 20 more grams of fat and loads more sodium. The extra sauces and prep style also inflate the fat and carbohydrate numbers. The best part – I think the garlic-pepper seasoning rub tastes great on its own. Add more calories to the total if you like to dip your buffalo wings in bleu cheese or ranch dressing.

Total Caloric Savings: 240 Calories

3. Pizza

Pizza almost always seems to be on the menu at a football gathering. Typically, most people will order from their favorite pizza chain and wait for it to be delivered. From a convenience standpoint, I certainly understand it. But what if we made our own pizza? Not only would we get to control the freshness and quality of the ingredients, but we might wind up a little healthier as well. Let’s check out the difference between a pizza from the most popular (and healthiest, based upon my research) pizza chain and a homemade pizza:

Pizza Hut Pizza

Serving Size: 2 Medium slices (156 grams)
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 168
Calories 440
Total Fat 18.6 grams
Saturated Fat 8 grams
Cholesterol 40 milligrams
Sodium 1068 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates 50 grams
Protein 18.4 grams

Homemade Pizza

Serving Size: 2 Medium slices (156 grams)
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 67
Calories 329 Total Fat 7.4 grams
Saturated Fat 3 grams
Cholesterol 15.4 milligrams
Sodium 235.8 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates 53 grams
Protein 12 grams

As you can see, we do wind up a bit healthier with the homemade version. With fewer calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium we’d be well served to get creative and make our next pizza. Experiment and have fun!

Total Caloric Savings: 111 Calories

4. Popcorn

Popcorn, like chips and dip, seems to be one of these necessary football viewing staples. The problem is that we can easily and mindlessly consume a ton of excess calories and not feel remotely close to satisfied. Therefore, we need to find a way to make this tasty snack a bit healthier if we’re going to have it around our table on game day. Our comparison is between the ever popular White Cheddar Smartfood popcorn and an air-popped variety that you can make at home with some kernels and an air popper. We’ll season the homemade version with salt and pepper.

White Cheddar Smartfood

Serving Size: 2 Cups
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 102.9
Calories 182.9
Total Fat 11.4 grams
Saturated Fat 2.3 grams
Cholesterol 2.9 milligrams

Air Popped Popcorn

Serving Size: 2 Cups
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 12
Calories 124
Total Fat 1.4 grams
Saturated Fat 0.2 grams
Cholesterol 0 milligrams

We’ll definitely save some calories as we mindlessly crunch away on the air-popped version. We also consume less fat, saturated fat and sodium (note: the sodium count will depend upon how much salt you use).

Total Caloric Savings: 59 Calories

5. Chocolate Chip Cookies

For many people, an afternoon of football viewing is almost never complete without something to satisfy the sweet tooth. Consequently, you’ll probably be tempted to pick up a back of store bought cookies. However, it’s quite possible that a homemade cookie might be a little bit healthier. Let’s see what we can come up with:

Chips Ahoy

Serving Size: 4 cookies
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 152
Calories 310
Total Fat 17 grams
Saturated Fat 6.6 grams
Cholesterol 5.4 milligrams

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie

Serving Size: 4 cookies
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 108
Calories 242
Total Fat 12 grams
Saturated Fat 7.2 grams
Cholesterol 0.34 milligrams

The serving sizes are approximately equivalent in terms of volume. Again, we save some calories. We can improve this result depending upon the recipe we follow and the ingredients we use. For example, a healthier chocolate, like dark chocolate, would be preferable to milk chocolate.

Total Caloric Savings: 68 Calories

The Sum Total

If we make no changes to our traditional football snacking choices we consume 1791 calories in an afternoon.

With our proposed changes we reduce our caloric intake to 1175 calories, a savings of 616 calories. When we extrapolate that over a full season of football watching, (roughly 23 weeks) we save 14,168 calories. A pound of fat equals 3500 calories, therefore these small changes would equate to approximately 4 pounds of fat NOT gained throughout the football season. And keep in mind that we didn’t overhaul the menu.

Remember, we’ve suggested small, relatively simple changes to existing food choices that can be easily implemented. Aside from a few extra calories, what do you have to lose?

Snack Smartly!

We didn’t even touch on exercise in today’s article, but you’d also be well served to throw in some hill sprints or high intensity strength training prior to your afternoon of football. Even getting out for a walk between games will help. Regardless, I hope you can see how a little creatively can help you to enjoy food, while making it just a bit healthier. After all, it’s easier to maintain healthy eating habits when you plan ahead. Most importantly, your waistline will thank you!

If you’d like to discuss further or if you’re looking to modify your current eating strategies and need guidance, contact us today to join the Vitalifit Coaching Program that’s right for you.